Employees of local coffee shop Killer E.S.P. (1012 King Street) who quit in protest of controversial tweets made on the company’s social media have raised $5,119 in a GoFundMe campaign, more than twice the campaign’s initial $2,000 goal.
“Due to the recent issues that have come to light on social media, the employees who stayed and worked through this pandemic have all officially quit (as of 6/10/20),” the campaign organizers said on the page. “We made this decision despite not having other jobs lined up because we felt it would be in our best interest for various reasons. We are currently looking for new work opportunities, but for the time being, will not be receiving any income. We created this page for any support that regulars, friends, and/or family may be able to donate to help us bridge the gap between employment during this stressful time.”
Tweets made from the Killer E.S.P. Twitter account, which has since been deleted, included calling coronavirus a “scam” and liberalism “a disease.” Posts liked by the account were even more insensitive, including jokes about George Floyd’s death and a proposal to electrify the White House fence.
Here are some more tweet screenshots before Killer ESP deleted their account. pic.twitter.com/qidcOsd5n6
— Laura Hayes (@LauraHayesDC) June 16, 2020
Owner Rob Shelton told Washingtonian that the account was hacked, or was being abused by an employee with access, but also doubled down on many of the sentiments expressed on the social media account.
Former Killer E.S.P. employees Hannah, Nate and Kristyn said in the GoFundMe that the social media posts were reflective of views Shelton had shared with staff.
“We would also like to note that we do not condone any of the views shared via the company’s social media pages,” the former staff said. “Additionally we would like to note that these comments have been shared in person to both staff and customers.”
The employees noted that the mass quitting was also inspired by Shelton’s handling of employee safety during the pandemic.
“One of the main reasons we left was for our safety during the pandemic,” the former staff said. “Now that there are laws requiring face masks, we all finally felt comfortable enough to wear them without backlash. The owner encouraged staff to not wear a mask by stating that he would pay any fines we received. He also encouraged customers to take off their masks and encouraged customers to sit inside, even though it is currently against the law.”
The GoFundMe was shared across social media — including by City Councilman John Chapman.
In an update to the campaign, staff said they missed their interactions with customers and thanked the community for their support. Donations ranged from $5 and $10 to two anonymous donations of $200 and $250.
“We cannot thank the community enough for their support,” staff said. “We are so grateful for everyone helping us through this difficult time!”
Photo via GoFundMe